Android Passes iOS on Mobile Ad Network

Android devices have surpassed iOS devices for the first time in ad impressions on at least one mobile ad network. In its December 2010 Mobile Mix Report, Millennial Media reported Thursday that Android accounted for 46% of impressions served by the network during December of 2010, compared to 32% for iOS devices, marking the first time Apple’s platform has played second fiddle to Android on the network.

One network doesn’t necessarily represent all mobile ads, of course, but it is another example of Android’s growing numbers in the smartphone market.

Millennial Chart

Source: Millennial Media

The Power of Many

The report also clearly demonstrates that the power of Android is derived from the many and more manufacturers making devices with the OS. Apple was the number one manufacturer, with 20.96% of devices receiving ads from the network being iOS devices. The company had a strong lead over #2 Samsung (an Android maker), with 17.23% of devices, and #3 HTC (also an Android maker), with 15.3% of devices. RIMM was #4 with 12.13%

Looking at individual devices, iPhone was #1 with 12.45%, and iPod touch was #3 with another 6.47%. iPad was #8 with 2.04%. Again, the company’s individual device report shows the power in numbers, as the #2 device was not Android, but rather RIMM’s BlackBerry Curve with 6.5%. The number one platform doesn’t find a representative device until you get to #4 (HTC Nexus One (Passion) with 4.14%) and #5 (Motorola Droid with 2.84%).

Indeed, the vast majority of the Top 30 devices in the report are Android devices, but each has a very small percentage of the total number of devices, as you can see in the figure below.

Millennial Chart

Paid Apps vs. Ad-Supported Apps

One thing not mentioned in the report is the nature of Apple’s iOS ecosystem and Android’s ecosystem. Far more apps sold on Apple’s App Store are paid apps than on Android, where ad-supported apps are the norm for apps that aren’t simply free. This is likely to skew the growth of Android’s presence on many ad networks, though that doesn’t necessarily negate the fact that Android’s growth surpassed Apple’s during the second half of 2011.

In addition, Millennial Media is a third party ad network, and many iOS developers are turning to Apple’s iAd for ad-supported iOS apps. Again, this doesn’t necessarily refute Android’s growth, but it is one of many factors that will be contributing to the changing dynamics of the fast-evolving smartphone market.